Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gates rates Gitmo

The House of Bush continues to fly apart during the current political storm surge, a surge that I doubt Bush expected after the election. Gates appears to understand that Bush won't close Gitmo and apparently won't listen to his Secretary of Defense.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday Congress should look for ways to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay...

House of Bush, House of Saud

Now we know why King Abdullah canceled his visit and state dinner with the White House. He had to stay around and give a speech denouncing the "illegitimate occupation of Iraq."
Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, on Wednesday slammed the "illegitimate foreign occupation" of Iraq in an opening speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh.

"In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil war," Abdullah said.

He also said that Arab nations, which are planning to revive a five-year-old Middle East peace plan at the summit, would not allow any foreign force to decide the future of the region.
The House of Saud has just officially dumped the House of Bush.

No recollection

Bruce Braley slams GSA chief Lurita Doan and out comes the Reagan defense: I don't remember. Anything.

Squirm, bitch.

Hale storm

Combine this tale with the Padilla case and things appear grim, indeed.

The murder of Derek Hale, a two-tour, decorated Marine:
Hale, a retired Marine Sergeant who served two tours in Iraq and was decorated before his combat-related medical discharge in January 2006, was murdered by a heavily armed 8–12-member undercover police team in Wilmington, Delaware last November 6. He had come to Wilmington from his home in Manassas, Virginia to participate in a Toys for Tots event.

Derek was house-sitting for a friend on the day he was murdered. Sandra Lopez, the ex-wife of Derek's friend, arrived with an 11-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter just shortly before the police showed up. After helping Sandra and her children remove some of their personal belongings, Derek was sitting placidly on the front step, clad in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, when an unmarked police car and a blacked-out SUV arrived and disgorged their murderous cargo. ...

[more...]

The Pentagon stops time

Little noticed amid the flurry of congressional hearings into the US Attorney firings and all the cynical abuse of the governmental apparatus that that scandal continues to expose came a quiet and ridiculous ruling by US District Court judge Marcia Cooke in the Padilla case.
A federal judge refused to dismiss terrorism support charges against Jose Padilla on Friday, rejecting defense claims that his 3 1/2 years in custody as an enemy combatant violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke agreed with prosecutors that Padilla's years in isolation at a Navy brig did not count because he had not yet been charged.

he criminal charges came when Padilla, a U.S. citizen accused of being an al-Qaida operative, was added to an existing Miami terrorism support indictment in November 2005. Only then did the clock start for the Sixth Amendment's right to a "speedy and public trial," Cooke said.

"I agree that the law in this case is that a criminal trial proceeding begins with the filing of the criminal process," Cooke said. "Mr. Padilla has been promptly brought to court in that matter."
The utterly specious reasoning employed is best discussed by Jacob G. Hornberger, who points out just what just what such a ruling implies for all Americans.
Last Friday, the presiding judge in the case, Marcia Cooke, denied Padilla’s motion to dismiss. The judge held that when a person, including an American citizen, is held in custody by the Pentagon as an “enemy combatant,” the time doesn’t start running with respect to his right to a speedy trial. It begins running, she held, only when he becomes part of the federal criminal-justice system.

Gee, I wonder if the judge’s reasoning applies to the rest of the Bill of Rights as well. Maybe the First Amendment doesn’t apply if it’s the Pentagon that is suppressing speech and assembly as part of its perpetual “war on terror.” Or maybe the Second Amendment prohibits only the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), not the Pentagon, from seizing guns from the American people, as it is doing as part of the “war on terror” in Iraq.

Our 18th-century American ancestors would have found Judge Cooke’s ruling to be ludicrous. If a military department of government is exempt from the restrictions of the Bill of Rights, then the entire executive branch is exempt for the obvious reason: Whenever the government wants to exempt itself from the Bill of Rights, all it has to do is employ the military to do the dirty deed. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect the American people from the federal government, not a particular department of the federal government.
We've all known the Padilla case has enormous implications for what the federal government can and cannot do, even though it is fairly spelled out in the Constitution. But so far, the Federal Court system has not generally resisted the Bush administration on its claims of supreme authority to determine who is an "enemy combatant." Given the congressional slide on the Military Commissions Act, that is not likely to be challenged anytime soon. One of the first things the Democrats should have had "on the table" was the repeal of the odious MCA but, as far as I've seen, there has been barely a move on this front. The minor effort to get habeas corpus reinstated has been just that; minor.

Hornberger draws the obvious conclusion from Cooke's ruling on Padilla:
Don’t forget: José Padilla is an American citizen. Thus, this case continues to hold ominous implications for the American people, especially when Judge Cooke’s ruling is considered in conjunction with the ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the government’s “enemy-combatant” designation for Americans as part of its “war on terrorism.” That means that whatever the government has done – and continues doing to Padilla – and, for that matter, every other “enemy combatant” in its “war on terror,“ – it has the authority to do to all Americans.

[via spiiderweb™]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Circuit Shitty

Imagine yourself, now a former Circuit City employee, having to answer the following on a job application:
Reason for leaving previous job:
You, as that former Circuit City employee, would have to answer,
Made $2/hr too much
That's right. Circuit City, "the second-largest U.S. electronics retailer" in the US, has just fired 3400 of its highest paid hourly workers because they were the highest paid hourly workers.
Circuit City Stores Inc., the second-largest U.S. electronics retailer after Best Buy Co., fired 3,400 of its highest-paid hourly workers and will hire replacements willing to work for less.
These jobs have not been "eliminated," as is often claimed when massive job cuts turf out thousands of workers. The jobs are still there only now they will be filled by people who will be hired at a substantially lower pay rate. Circuit City management said that those fired could reapply for their old job at the lower rate. Quite a scam.

Undaunted by the loss of experienced workers, analysts admit that Circuit City will face "a challenge,"
These are all fresh faces coming in and certainly they're less experienced, so I'm guessing it's not going to be a one- or two-quarter challenge. There's going to be a learning curve.
Such parsimony is only the least of concerns. It is the reasoning behind this move that is truly galling. With said move, Circuit City and the Wall Street clowns who encourage such behaviour are demonstrating that they really don't believe in the notion of "working hard and getting ahead." They really are advocates of the "work hard, get ahead, get canned because you got ahead, go back to the beginning where you're cheaper." Rinse, repeat. Just one more American myth blown out the ass-end of corporate America.

Boycott these jokers and show them what the real bottom line is.

What's in the jar?

Evolutionists repent! The end is nigh for your silly theories. See how Peanut Butter destroys your petty empirical arguments.


[thanks to mash for that one, too.]

Ol' Blackwater, keep on rollin'

Jeremy Scahill describes the Blackwater mercenary army. Coming soon to a theatre of conflict near you.




[via Hotpotatomash. mash has more with interviews of Scahill on Democracy Now!]

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Defense" spending

President Bush's defense budget request of $481.4 billion -- an 11 percent boost over last year -- pushes U.S. defense spending to levels not seen since the Reagan-era buildup of the 1980s.

In addition, the president is seeking a projected $141.7 billion in emergency supplemental funding for 2008 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for broader anti-terrorism efforts -- bringing the total spent in those arenas since 2001 to $661 billion, eclipsing in real terms the cost of the Vietnam War.

-- Bush's Defense Budget Biggest Since Reagan Era,
Washington Post,
February 6, 2007
___________________
The Army's new acting surgeon general said Tuesday she is concerned about long-term morale because the military lacks money to hire enough nurses and mental health specialists to treat thousands of troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

-- Long-Term Morale a Concern,
AP,
March 27,2007
Meanwhile, back at one of the military industrial complex's bat caves...
Torrential rains wiped out a quarter of the U.S.' intercontinental ballistic missile interceptor silos in Ft. Greely, Alaska last summer -- right when North Korea was preparing to carry out an advanced missile launch.

"The flooding occurred during a three-week period between the end of June and early July 2006," POGO notes, in a statement. "The flooding damaged 25% of the U.S. interceptor missiles’ launch capability. These silos house the interceptor missiles that would be used to attempt to intercept a missile aimed at the United States. No interceptors were in the flooded silos."

An internal assessment by Boeing, the silos' chief contractor, shows seven flooded interceptor silos, out of the 26 at Ft. Greely. Two silos have more than 62 feet of water; a third has more than 50. Estimated times of repair range from four to 14 months. Boxcar like structures called Silo Interface Vaults (SIVs), adjacent to the interceptor silos, were also flooded, "two of them by as much as 15 feet of water," POGO says. "Three SIVs must have all electronic and mechanical systems replaced. Four other SIVs have partial damage. One SIV was so damaged that it shifted vertically in the ground like a house shifting off its foundation." It's a strange turn of events, considering "an environmental impact study of the facilities at Ft. Greely notes there is 'little rainfall in the region.'"
A Republican environmental impact study, one might be inclined to imagine.

Happily, taxpayers will get to foot the bill for this colossal fuck up by Boeing; an estimated $38 million at this point. No doubt it will be higher. Moreover, Boeing will receive a $7 million award fee for this grand work and will also continue construction on another $100 million worth of possibly water tight silos. No guarantees, however.

$9 billion a year and these guys can't keep water out of a fucking hole in the ground. No funds to hire nurses for the wounded, though. That's simply too much of strain on the budget.

Think of the children

“I’m not going to resign. I’m going to stay focused on protecting our kids.”
-- Alberto Gonzales,
March 22, 2007
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, both already under siege for other matters, are now being accused of failing to prosecute officers of the Texas Youth Commission after a Texas Ranger investigation documented that guards and administrators were sexually abusing the institution's teenage boy inmates.

Justice Department letters describe that there was no evidence that "physical pain" occurred during the assaults. Yes, the DoJ itself actually called the systematic abuse of incarcerated teens "assault," but that this was not worthy of prosecution because no one complained about physical pain.

This last story comes from World Net Daily. Yes, even the wingnuts are revolted by Gonzales.

Sheeple

Via Slashdot we learn that scientists have created sheep that are 15% human.
Scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera - which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer.

Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada, has spent seven years and £5million perfecting the technique, which involves injecting adult human cells into a sheep's foetus.
Dr. Zanjani appears to be a bit behind the curve. We already have sheep in this country that are 100% human.

The gift that keeps on giving

Hey, do you have the "war president" fever? Are you happy that such a dumb-ass could be installed as president? Thrilled that this empty vessel would accede to the neocon vision of a militaristic American Empire and how that would be a good thing?

Wish you had George W Bush up your very own ass?

Sure to top the gift lists of every Bush supporter and war monger across the globe, LoveHoney is selling the George W Bush butt plug. A mere £34.99 will fill your favourite neocon with sweet dreams and 5 in. from the "tip of his head to the flat of his base" of nuthin' but W. Bill Kristol has customized colors and one for every day of the week.

Don't wait! Get yours today!

Tiny TIME pills

It used to be the province of Newsweek to offer fluff to American readers and serious stuff to the rest of the world. Well, TIME has just tuned into that auspicious trend.



Time US, April 2, 2007 -
Yes, it appears to be arguing for teaching the Bible in school, apparently unaware of the irony invoked with its choice of covers for Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.







Time Europe
Time Asia
Time South Pacific




Of course, whether Time editors realize it or not, they really are the same cover. Aren't they?

Goner Gonzales

The turret is swiveling and the hatch closes as senior Justice Department official, Monica Goodling, vows to take the Fifth. This is usually a sign that people recognize the end is nigh. As more and more Senators, Repub and Dems, grow irked by the AG, Bill Nelson of Florida, not known for radical liberal positions, had this to say about Gonzales,
Unless he has a good explanation for not only what he knew and when he knew it but also for the ineptitude of the department ... he is a goner.
I love it when they talk simple. Another fall guy is about to fall.

Monday, March 26, 2007

April showers?

I guess we'll find out whether or not Russian intel and analysis or disinformation, as the case may be, is any good:
MOSCOW, March 19 - RIA Novosti. The Russian military experts estimate that the planning of the American military attack against Iran passed the point of nonreturn on February 20, when the director of the IAEA, Mohammed El Baradei, recognized, in his report/ratio, the incapacity of the Agency “to confirm the peaceful character of the nuclear program of Iran”.

According to the Russian weekly magazine Argoumenty nedeli, a military action will proceed during the first week of April, before Easter catholic and orthodoxe (this year they are celebrated the 8), when the “Western opinion” is on leave. It may be also that Iran is struck on Friday 6 public holiday in the Moslem countries. According to the American diagram, it will be a striking of only one day which will last 12 hours, 4 hours of morning at 16 o'clock in afternoon. The code name of the operation is to date “English Cock” ....
Knowing the Bushies, though, they'll change it just to screw with the Russians.

This appears to have the strikingly similar reasoning that had convinced right wingers, some months ago, of a doomsday scenario based upon the Muslim calendar. Or the Gregorian calendar. Perhaps comparing Russian reasoning with that of the addled right wing in the US is bit too harsh. After all, x-right-wingers (x as in our current vernacular for extreeeeeeeme) are constantly pissing themselves about being attacked at almost every moment.

Then again, the agitation is on the upswing lately. The Iranians captured British soldiers who, despite the claims of people who have long lost credibility, were most likely in contested waters working as merely one of many provocations. Craig Unger argues that the cover story -- the Royal Navy was interdicting car smuggling -- is ridiculous on its face. But despite the right wing freak-out about Iranians prosecuting the Brits as spies, we see the curious sight that now the Iraqis are acting as intermediaries, like they don't have enough to worry about. Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, informs us that the Iraqi government "have good relations, good communications, with the Iranian government. We are going to use whatever influence, goodwill, we have to ensure that these sailors are released as soon as possible.” In all likelihood the Iranians will release the soldiers within the next few days. At least that might be expected if the White House weren't intent on turning this minor incident into some sort of casus belli.

I do have one question for Tony Blair. Why is he, or any British commander, letting British soldiers be used as proxy provocateurs? I can see the reasoning on the US side, of course; practically no one would believe that, had US forces been involved, the incident was not a direct provocation. The Brits have, perhaps, slightly more credibility in making such a claim but, given the poorly thought-out excuse, they've blown it.

John Perkins and Empire: hiding in plain sight


Some days ago, I noticed a new book was coming out, a follow-on to John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. This new tome, A Game as Old as Empire, is likely to be as equally distressing, describing, as did Confessions, a ruthless global underworld of corruption and racketeering, all exacted in service of multinational corporate empire. In the world Perkins inhabited and described, the US government, international financial institutions (World Bank, IMF) and various selected US corporations collude to reinforce poverty on stricken nations, burden them with enormous debt and reap resource rewards and political leverage.

This is all done in plain sight, of course, which is why it is quietly tolerated here. Our faithful corporate media have, since the conception of the economic hit, always sought to portray World Bank loans as a good and necessary mechanism to bring relief to the world's poor. Even people within the World Bank and the IMF may believe that this is what they are doing. But if they do believe this, they must see themselves as abject failures. Deprivation has only increased -- markedly so -- across the world under these policies. Ultimately, though, these policies have performed exactly as intended.



Here is Perkins describing some of the consequences for leaders who failed to come in line:



You can read an excerpt from A Game As Old As Empire, first out a couple of weeks ago. I will warn you, such reading is not good for the soul. In fact, it is infuriating beyond belief. Hopefully, it spurs us all to bring an end to a system designed to extend human suffering for the sake of economic empire and in that, these books will have served a valuable role. Reading such material will also convey to the reader another salient point, one that is often heard though little regarded: there is no essential difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, at least not at the level of global policy. Both have been been willing accomplices in this destructive and ultimately futile charade.

Of equal interest will be John Perkins new book, due out in June, 2007. The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption. Sure to infuriate further.


[thanks to Cernig and Monkeyfister for reminding me of these important works.]

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Recycling, the Republican way

Just another atrocity in the pantheon of atrocities during the dark days of Bush.

Remains of 9-11 victims were used to fill potholes, contractor says

NEW YORK - The pulverized remains of bodies from the World Trade Center disaster site were used by city workers to fill ruts and potholes, a city contractor says in a sworn affidavit filed Friday in Manhattan Federal Court.

Eric Beck says debris powders - known as fines - were put in a pothole-fill mixture by crews at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, N.Y., where more than 1.65 million tons of World Trade Center debris were deposited after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I observed the New York City Department of Sanitation taking these fines from the conveyor belts of our machines, loading it onto tractors and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts," Eric Beck said.

Beck was the senior supervisor for Taylor Recycling, a private contractor hired to sift through debris trucked to Fresh Kills after the trade center attacks. Before the arrival of Taylor's equipment at Fresh Kills in October 2001, the debris was sifted manually by workers using rakes and shovels.

Beck's affidavit was filed by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims who are suing the city in hopes of creating a formal burial place for debris that they say contains human remains.

[More...]

[via C&L]

Pambazuka News


This is a quick note encouraging readers to check out Pambazuka News, recently added to the blogroll. This "weekly forum on social justice in Africa" is a great resource and worth a visit.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Further setting the world stage

Given the rousing success of Bush's recent tour of Latin America and that ill-advised event's exposure of the near uniform animosity that much of Latin American has for US foreign and trade policy, it is not without interest that China and Venezuela have been working on a "raft of oil deals," which surely promises a raft of conniptions for neocons and other agents of American empire.
The China National Petroleum Corp. will look to develop heavy crude oil production in the Orinoco Belt and cooperate with Venezuela in building three refineries in China and a ''super-fleet'' of crude tankers....

Chavez has ambitious plans to lift oil exports to China to lessen its dependence on its arch-foe the United States, saying it hopes to send 1 million barrels per day to China by 2012.

This optimistic target follows an earlier goal of more than tripling oil exports to China of 160,000 bpd by 2009.

The Information Ministry said CNPC would sign on Monday a preliminary deal to take a 40 percent stake in various Venezuelan heavy crude projects.

CNPC is already working in the Junin 4 block but Chavez said the Chinese oil giant wanted to expand its Orinoco operations with "billions of dollars'' of investment.
Little noticed as it will be at the headline level in the US, such news, combined with Chavez's intent to nationalize Venezuela's oil industry and relieve US multinationals of their majority ownership in that country' heavy crude projects, spells out a clear signal and it is not one likely to be viewed with ease by Washington. Exxon Mobile, Chevron and Conoco Phillips will all be pushed out in favour of the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), if this joint venture moves forward. Furthermore, Venezuela is openly seeking to align itself with the expanding counterweight to American global dominance.
While sidelining such majors, Chavez is seeking to do more business with China, Russia and Iran, part of forming what he describes as a multipolar alliance against the United States.
Both China and Russia have resisted greater economic sanctions against Iran, as have been demanded by the United States. With Venezuela keen to join the blossoming axis, the importance of this latest move by China to secure Venezuelan oil cannot be overstated. China appears more than willing to take up the investment slack in Venezuela if and when US interests decide to pull out.

Of equal note is that the Sino-Venezuelan agreement would see this new "super fleet" of tankers supply not just the Chinese mainland but also send crude oil to Africa, where the Chinese have also been recently and aggressively pursuing trade agreements. Chinese trade with Africa increased by almost 40% last year, whereby the Chinese have been busy securing oil interests and other raw materials in order to fuel the rapidly expanding Chinese economy. Shipping oil to Africa would be seen in the long term as further stoking Chinese economic expansion on the continent. Moreover, it can be expected that control of the Panama Canal could once again become a contentious issue should American interests really start feeling the pinch once China's super fleet of tankers starts shipping petroleum across the Pacific. Do not be surprised if some US administration develops a need to bring more democracy to Panama in the future.

This is not to say that the Russian-Iran-China axis can be expected to be better or worse than any western imperialism seen to date. In fact, there is good reason to believe that, in some respects, increasing domination by this axis could be significantly worse for many. Russia has already demonstrated an abhorrent ability to brutally smack down dissent with its treatment of the Chechens. And China, of course, is more than willing to allow the Dafur disaster continue apace, as its interests in protecting oil leases with Sudan subvert world demand to end the flagrant and massive humanitarian crisis. Elsewhere, Chinese companies have already established some of the worst sweatshops on the African continent, exporting their well-honed anti-labour practices there, just as resentment within China's own borders grows to uncomfortable levels. The Chinese haven't yet learned how to keep sweatshop labour markets at arm's length, nor does it seem they care. Establishing a firm economic foothold in Africa is of far more significance than swaying to criticisms over humanitarian concerns. Besides, it's Africa. The first world doesn't really care. Look how long Sudan has gotten away with the horror show that is Darfur. To rapidly expanding economies and western interests, Africa is simply a pot of oil, diamonds, copper and poor people willing, and perhaps not so, to work for nothing.

Nonetheless, the expansive and expanding power and influence of the three countries, which continue to align themselves against US interests -- with Venezuela anxious to join the fray -- has been and will continue to be a source of significant concern to western interests, especially the United States. Ironically, it was the ill-advised and wholly illegal invasion of Iraq that spelled out the need for these countries to align themselves in an effort to resist the American drive for "global benevolent hegemony." If anything, the invasion of Iraq set in motion the repeal of American hegemony, as Bush administration policy has bankrupted the country and drained its military reserves. Certainly Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela have all seen the opening created by the ruinous Bush administration and they are ready to pounce. In fact, they are pouncing already.

But what have we in the United States been doing while the geopolitical struggle for world hegemony has been taking place? Why, spying on ourselves, that's what.


[for further reading on geopolitical struggle for dominance of Eurasian oil and gas supplies, see Pipelines and Imperial Missions.]

Multi-tasking

Limp and severely weakened, I must admit to complete White House/DoJ scandal burnout during these last few days. Thankfully, another Republican scandal took a few headlines away from Abu Graiberto's streaming slurry of bullshit and created an opening to discuss the other fine use to which the Bush administration have put the federal government: serving Corporastan.

Former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, J. Steven Griles, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to Congress after he denied involvement with Jack Abramoff and that convicted felon's Indian Affairs operation. But Griles had been also quite busy in previously working to relax restrictions on oil and gas drilling in New Mexico at the behest of Yates Petroleum, New Mexico's biggest contributor to the Republican Party between 2000 and 2004 and, not coincidentally, the largest owner of drilling leases in and around the federally protected Otero Mesa region. Griles had been a lobbyist for Yates Petroleum before being appointed to the Department of the Interior and continued to receive $284,000 per year from Yates Petroleum while he was Deputy Secretary.

In a near complete reversal of a 2000 Bureau of Land Management study of Otero Mesa and shortly after Griles became Deputy Secretary, the BLM asserted that the Otero Mesa region should be opened to extensive oil and gas drilling, despite studies indicating that the potential for recoverable petroleum was "medium and low," or as the state director of the BLM called it, "small potatoes." Despite the wilderness' lack of energy potential, at $60 per bbl or more, Yates Petroleum would stand to make a goodly profit out of ravaging a unique desert habitat.

We already know the gruesome pattern of the Bush administration. Bring former industry lobbyists to regulatory agencies, who then work diligently to rewrite regulations in favour of those industries, while they falsify and obstruct studies demonstrating harmful effects of weakened regulations. Once the damage is done, these lobbyists quickly return to those industries to enjoy a period of profit and praise. This is your government, on the drug of corporate cash.

None of this behaviour caused Griles or the White House much grief, so common has such activity become. But Griles conviction serves to remind us all that many of these high level government/industry hacks have their hands in many pockets.

Tears of a clown

But again, with respect to this whole process, like every CEO, I am ultimately accountable and responsible for what happens within the department. But that is in essence what I knew about the process; was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. That's basically what I knew as the Attorney General. I never saw documents. We never had a discussion about where things stood. What I knew was that there was ongoing effort that was led by Mr. Sampson, vetted through the Department of Justice, to ascertain where we could make improvements in U.S. attorney performances around the country.
-- Alberto Gonzales,
Mar 13, 2007
____________________________
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in a November meeting, according to documents released Friday that contradict earlier claims that he was not closely involved in the dismissals. The Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Justice Department officials said late Friday. There, Gonzales signed off on the plan ....
____________________________
Obviously I am concerned about the fact that information, incomplete information, was communicated or may have been communicated to the Congress. I believe very strongly in our obligation to ensure that when we provide information to the Congress, it is accurate and that it is complete and I am very dismayed that that may not have occurred here.
-- Alberto Gonzales,
Mar 13, 2007

Poor Alberto. He must be getting more dismayed by the day.

C'mon folks. Haven't you figured this out yet?
The only time I'm not lying is when I'm not talking.
And during those times, I'm thinking
about how to lie next.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One step forward from ten paces back

The Senate votes to give itself the authority it used to have before the Patriot Act.
[T]he Senate voted today to restore its authority to confirm nominees to the nation's 93 U.S. attorney positions.
Ahh, progress.

Dick Cheney: Iranian mole

Nicholas Kristof makes the case, and it now seems so obvious. Dick Cheney is a mole for hard line Iranian government. D'oh!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pining for the days...

Check out the latest at TMPMuckraker for all things Gonzales. Is it just me or have the days of John Ashcroft, with his personal need to cover up the boobs of statues and addle-brained focus on third trimester abortions, started to look adorably nutty?

The voter fraud fraud

You've read a lot about the claims from various Republicans about how the DoJ and the White House were keen on pursuing "voter fraud" -- not to be confused with election fraud, which is rampant -- and wanted US Attorneys to attack the "problem" vigorously. While designed to sound noble, something sounding this virtuous coming from this GOP probably has to have a slimy underbelly. Of course, this expectation would be entirely correct. These are the same people, after all, who produce a "Clear Skies Initiative" that befouls the air, a "Clean Water Initiative" that relaxes regulation on mercury contamination, a "Healthy Forests Initiative" that paves the way for increased logging. Like all such Republican actions in the last few years, the pursuit of "voter fraud" is designed from a purely partisan political perspective and really has nothing to do with the non-problem of voter fraud, a fiction of a completely Republican manufacture.

But what is the back story? What is this "voter fraud" that led Republicans to become unhappy with David Iglesias in New Mexico and John McKay in Washington? You've probably only heard about the fact that Republicans claimed that "voter fraud" was a serious problem and ... nothing else, that these indolent US Attorneys were not taking this serious problem seriously. Such is our media today.

Nonetheless, the story can be had. Bradblog published an excellent description by John Boyd of Freedman, Boyd, Daniels, Hollander, Goldberg & Ives PA, a lawyer involved in the case in New Mexico prior to the 2004 election. It is so good, in fact, that I feel compelled to reproduce it here (apologies to Brad). It is clear, concise and will further illustrate just how much the GOP hates the fact that Americans actually get to vote and will stop at nothing trying to prevent it.
THE FIRED U.S. ATTORNEY, DAVID IGLESIAS, AND “VOTER FRAUD”

In order to blunt the scandal arising from the Republican efforts to persuade U.S. Attorney David Iglesias (New Mexico) to indict some Democrats just before the last election, Senator Pete Domenici and other Republicans have explained that, really, they’ve been “disappointed” with Iglesias for some time. Why? Because, according to Domenici et al., Iglesias failed to aggressively pursue the problem of “voter fraud” in New Mexico. These Republicans are undoubtedly telling the truth about this. The problem for them is that this explanation doesn’t make things better for them, it makes things far, far worse. Read on.

In the run-up to the 2004 election, there were intense efforts at voter registration going on in New Mexico. The result was the enfranchisement of many minorities and poor. The Republicans were apoplectic, of course. The registration campaigns added about 65,000 voters to the rolls in Bernalillo County alone, about a 10% increase.

The Republicans’ response (and it has since been surfacing in Congress as well as in other states) was to demand strict “voter i.d.” laws. Strict voter i.d. laws have the effect of disenfranchising many students (who may not have in-state licenses, or other forms of i.d. showing an address), old people, minorities and poor who for many reasons may not possess the type of identification such a law would require.

The Republicans have been trying to sell these laws for the last two or three years, but they have needed a “hook”. The hook is what they refer to as “voter fraud.” If they can persuade the public that people are voting twice, or that people who shouldn’t be permitted to vote are voting, or that other kinds of “fraud” are occurring, they can sell “voter i.d.” as the solution. The problem for the Republicans is that voter fraud is not even a tiny problem. There are not a lot of people who are prepared to risk a felony conviction by finagling a way to vote twice, and there are not a lot of illegal aliens trying to figure out how to vote in American elections. As I learned from a Harvard professor who has studied the history of voting in America, the banner of “voter fraud” has a long and ugly history because it has been repeatedly used to justify impediments to voting, from poll taxes and literacy tests to the present day push for strict “voter i.d.” laws.

So in New Mexico, in the late summer of 2004, a group of Republicans marched into the county clerk’s office and asked if there were any “problem” registrations associated with the voter registration drives. The clerk said “yes” and told them that there were some 6000 defectively completed registration forms (missing ss#’s, po box addresses, no signature, that sort of thing). The problem for the Republicans, however, was that these didn’t represent fraud, they were just typical and expected screw-ups by the registrants or the people registering them.

The Republicans nevertheless held a press conference, and grabbed headlines, announcing how terribly shocked they were to report that there were over 6000 “fraudulent registrations” submitted by these nefarious voter registration groups, and New Mexico’s voter rolls were being grossly corrupted. This had the predictable effect on the public, whose response was that they could now understand why a strict voter i.d. law would be a good idea.

The Republicans filed suit to try to get a state district court declaration that New Mexico’s very narrow voter i.d. statute (which applied only to first-time voters who had mailed in their voter registration applications) should have a much broader interpretation, under which most new voters would have to present i.d. at the polls. I represented the Democratic Party as an intervenor in the suit.

The Republicans attached to their complaint a few examples of what they alleged to be “clearly fraudulent” registration applications. This was to show how dire the situation was and how badly the state needed a more expansive interpretation of its voter i.d. law. Suffice it to say that we investigated the ostensibly fraudulent registrations and it turned out that they were clearly not fraudulent.

For example, one woman had signed two different registration applications, both of which were accurate. She signed one on a desk and one on her hand as she was walking across campus, with the result that her two signatures appeared different.

Another involved a couple who had registered at a voter registration drive table but had not received their registration cards. Worried that their applications has been lost, the husband returned alone to a registration table and filled out two new forms and, with his wife’s permission, signed her name.

These were “Exhibits A and B” to the Republicans’ allegations of rampant voter fraud. Only one of all the supposed examples was actually fraudulent. It was a registration application that a teenager had filled out as a prank. The testimony was clear that his name would never have appeared on the rolls because of the cross-checking that occurs with respect to every new registration, nor was there any indication that he would even have dreamed of trying to vote.

It was this evidence – if it can be called evidence - that the Republicans presented to David Iglesias when they demanded that he appoint a federal task force to get to the bottom of the “serious voter fraud problem” facing New Mexico. Iglesias understandably blew it off. What the Republicans wanted from him, of course, was not convictions (there was no evidence of any crimes, other than the teenager’s prank), but HEADLINES! The Republicans’ theory, probably correct, is that if they can get enough headlines about voter fraud, they will be able to sell their disenfranchising voter i.d. laws to the public. Iglesias, understandably, had better things to do with his time and with our money.

What this means, of course, is that the U.S. Attorney scandal is far worse than it now appears. The Republicans are telling the truth when they say they have been “disappointed” with Iglesias for a long time. What is not understood, however, is that the reason they’ve been disappointed with him is that before the last Presidential election Iglesias failed to obey the Republican politicians who asked him to devote his resources to publicly pursuing non-existent fraud. As we on the other side of the litigation referred to it, it was “the voter fraud fraud.” Senator Domenici and Representative Wilson should hardly be able to find any political cover in their excuse that they had been disappointed by Iglesias’ supposed failure to aggressively pursue voter fraud.

So this is a three-pronged scandal. First, there is the scandal of the “voter fraud” fraud which the Republicans have been trying to use to help promote restrictive, disenfranchising voter i.d. legislation. Second, there is the scandal of the Republicans attempting to enlist the US Atty’s office in their voter fraud fraud by getting him, at taxpayer expense and contrary to the most elemental ethics, to use his office to generate headlines about “voter fraud” when none was occurring, for the sole purpose of shaving Democratic party margins. Third, there is the scandal of firing Iglesias for refusing to go along with this fraudulent manipulation. In other words, it’s not BETTER because the Republicans have been “disappointed” in Iglesias for some time. It’s WORSE.

John Boyd

Sandwich counter on the West Bank

"What is to become of the Palestinians?"

"Oh," Sharon said, "we'll make a pastrami sandwich of them."

I said, "What?"

He said, "Yes, we'll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart".


Sharon's territorial preferences were formed decades ago, and they have not changed significantly over time. The settlement plan he unveiled as Minister of Agriculture in 1977 focused on the area of the West Bank east of the Green Line. Sharon planned settlements in this region as a way of preventing the creation of "a solid Arab block" straddling Palestinian towns on both sides of the Green Line and reaching eastward to the populated region joining Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Jerusalem. In this latter area, Sharon spearheaded the establishment of numerous small settlements along the mountain ridge.

The Sharon map of 1997 proposed the annexation of between 64 per cent of the West Bank and thirty-one percent of its Palestinian population to Israel. It acknowledged the need to accommodate the reality of Palestinian sovereignty in a portion of the West Bank within a strategic environment dominated militarily by Israel and without obstructing the expansion of Israeli settlements.


[Graphic from We are wide awake.]

Read those words of Sharon from 30+ years ago and look at that map. This has been a decades long land grab. Quite apart from the rhetoric demand by the Israelis, just what "state of Israel" is the Palestinian Authority supposed to recognise?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The inadvertency operator

"...I was the inadvertent leak"
-- Richard Armitage.

"Rove may have played an inadvertent role in the disclosure of a covert operative's name."
-- National Review.

"[Libby] told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part."
-- Robert Novak

But the growing body of evidence to date suggests that this was an inadvertent leak that was blown completely out of proportion....
_- Brian Wilson, Fox News

[Armitage] said that the leak had been an inadvertent slip....
-- David Corn, The Nation

The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA....
-- Walter Pincus, Mike Allen,
Washington Post


Fleischer was horrified when he learned that he had been an inadvertent leak
-- Politblogo, from the Libby Trial.

Armitage said he knew of no plan to leak Plame's identity.
-- Townhall



Booting the MEK

I'm afraid I missed this from last week, but this is very interesting. The Iraqi government is seeking to expel the Pentagon-supported Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), a terrorist group the Pentagon has been more than happy to accommodate while the this band of Muslim fanatics have run various insurgent activities inside Iran, something they first started doing after being booted out of Iran by Khomeini. The MEK were originally part of the Islamic revolution in 1979, but proved too crazed for Khomeini's liking. After being cast out of Iran, the MEK developed a mutual understanding with Saddam Hussein, who was more than happy to host the nutters while they carried out various terrorist operations against Iranian targets throughout the '80's and 90's. These are the guys the US military have been hosting at Camp Ashraf, just north of Baghdad, for three years.
For three years, thousands of members of a militant group dedicated to overthrowing Iran's theocracy have lived in a sprawling compound north of Baghdad under the protection of the U.S. military.

U.S. soldiers chauffeur top leaders of the group, known as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, to and from their compound, where they have hosted dozens of visitors in an energetic campaign to persuade the State Department to stop designating the group as a terrorist organization.

Now the Iraqi government is intensifying its efforts to evict the 3,800 or so members of the group who live in Iraq, although U.S. officials say they are in no hurry to change their policy toward the MEK, which has been a prime source of information about Iran's nuclear program.
Most of which has been phony or wrong, which is probably why the Pentagon wants them around. One can't have too many "curveballs" when one is drumming up "intelligence."
The Iraqi government announced this week that roughly 100 members would face prosecution for human rights violations, a move MEK officials contend comes at the request of the Iranian government.

"We have documents, witnesses," Jaafar Moussawi, a top Iraqi prosecutor, said Monday, alleging that the MEK aided then-President Saddam Hussein's campaign to crush Shiite and Kurdish opposition movements at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Moussawi said the criminal complaint would implicate MEK members in "killing, torture, (wrongful) imprisonment and displacement."
It's always been a wonder as to how long the uncomfortably cozy MEK/Pentagon relationship would last once the Iranian-connected Iraqi government began to assert itself. I think we are seeing the beginnings of an answer to this question. Not that this will persuade the Pentagon or the White House much, but it does indicate that Maliki is trying to assert some authority where he has little. Furthermore, it says a whole lot about strengthening ties between Iraq and Iran at the expense of US interests.

MEK spokesman, Behzad Saffari:
If we have to leave Iraq, it means the Americans are defeated. It means Iran has prevailed.
In fact, that is exactly what it would mean. At least partly. But it also means that Maliki, with close ties to Tehran himself, recognizes that the MEK could turn on him in a Baghdad minute.

No mention of this in the article but I can't help but wonder how responsible are the Baghdad talks for this effort by Maliki.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"It's all a big lie."

Whatever you may think about Donald Trump, he doesn't mince words.


Yield the Shield

It seems to be the case that the only people putting heat on the Israelis for their less than admirable behaviour are ... Israelis:
IDF to probe human shields allegations

DF Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Madelblit ordered the Military Police Thursday night to launch a criminal investigation into allegations that IDF soldiers used Palestinians as human shields during an operation in Nablus.

Palestinians claimed that civilians were used as human shields when troops raided houses in Nablus two weeks ago during Operation Hot Winter, which was aimed at uncovering terror infrastructure in the city.

The human rights group B'Tselem charged that troops took two minors - a 15-year-old boy and an 11-year old girl - along while they searched houses for gunmen and weapons, forcing them to enter the houses first.

Banana Republican

Devout Republican financier and crazed Christianist Carl Lindner's company, Chiquita Brands International, has agreed to pay a $25 million fine for hiring various terrorists in Colombia to provide "protection" to company employees.
Banana company Chiquita Brands International said Wednesday it has agreed to a $25 million fine after admitting it paid terrorists for protection in a volatile farming region of Colombia.

The settlement resolves a lengthy Justice Department investigation into the company’s financial dealings with right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels the U.S. government deems terrorist groups.

In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the Cincinnati-based company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials.
The AUC are a charming lot:
The AUC has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia’s civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country’s cocaine exports. The U.S. government designated the right-wing militia a terrorist organization in September 2001.
All of which proves just how wrong George Bush has been. For a fee, you can be with us and the terrorists.

The Uniter

Images of George Bush's whirlwind "bringing people together" tour of Latin America.



Brazil:










































































Uruguay:





























Guatemala:














































Mexico:

























Colombia:

































Argentina:

















That went well.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A World of Possibilities

White House "explanations" for Lawyergate continue to shift and amuse. After four days of promoting the Harriet-Miers-suggested-the-mass-firing line, now White House mouth organ Tony Snow says that no one really knows who suggested such an action. Despite the certitude of previous White House assertions, things, it must be remembered, are not easily remembered:
It has been described as her idea but . . . I don't want to try to vouch for origination. At this juncture, people have hazy memories.
In response to being asked if Bush himself may have suggested a second term renewal of all US Attorneys, Snow threw up some metaphorical hands and offered the press corps this gem:
Anything's possible,
and then warned everyone not to jump to the conclusion that Bush could be responsible for the origins of such an idea. I would naturally extend this to any idea, really.

Your tax dollars at work.

DeLay lashes out

One thing you must admit: these are interesting times. At the same time Congress is conducting hearings into the CIA leak and the bulk dismissal of disagreeable US Attorneys, now more congressional questions are being flung at Attorney General Gonzales with the news that he may have "shut down an investigation of the White House's domestic wiretapping surveillance program because of his involvement with the program." Things are unraveling rapidly. Which is why it seems only appropriate to note that, in the midst of this political squall, Republicans themselves are chomping on the legs of their own.

Who can help but laugh to learn that Tom Delay has written a book (not out yet) in which he reportedly will "visit his wrath" upon Newt Gingrich, former majority leader Dick Armey, George Bush and who knows who else. Specifically, DeLay says that the Republican leadership had "no moral shape" to press for the impeachment of Clinton while Gingrich was conducting his own extra-marital affair.
It is now public knowledge that Newt Gingrich was having an affair with a staffer during the entire impeachment crisis. Clearly, men with such secrets are not likely to sound a high moral tone at a moment of national crisis.
DeLay will no doubt sound much like he has over the past couple of years: everyone's agin' me! He basically calls Gingrich know nothing, says Dick Armey was "blinded by ambition," and hates the expansion of government under Bush. This from the House Majority Leader who let it all slide. And DeLay saying that someone -- not him mind you -- is "blinded by ambition" is simply precious.

But still, the sight and sound of GOP hacks calling each other immoral cowards is great. And it is great for one reason. Their internecine bellyaching and grasping power plays are actually causing them to speak honestly about each other. You don't hear that every day.

Amazing what subpoena power can do

Go check out Bradblog, where Brad Friedman is live-blogging the House Oversight Committee's hearings on the Plame leak. Most importantly, after the long, ugly nutter history that Plame was not covert, that she was a "desk jockey, Plame has now testified.
I was covert when my identity was outed. Worked in counter-proliferation division of CIA where most agents were also covert. I was covert, the status of my position was classified, I was working on WMD issues in Iraq. I traveled overseas during the five years prior to my being outed at which time my cover was blown, network destroyed along with my career path.
Much more, as well as the unsurprising revelation that the White House never conducted its own investigation of the CIA leak. This seems to have "stunned" members of Congress.

A Message for American Empire

Jon Stewart talks with Brezezinsky. Sadly, discussions like this are now confined to Comedy Central.



[Thanks to Kel at The Osterely Times]

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kentucky Fried troops

This has to be one of the best one-liners I've seen in sometime: Gary Buell at Covert History, regarding the Salon report that the Pentagon is sending wounded troops back to Iraq:
The Bush administration supports the troops the way KFC supports chickens.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The redirection

With windlasses and with assays of bias, By indirections find directions out.
- Polonius
The rolling pin of White House scandal continues to splay out an ever widening pastry of malfeasance, fraud, jobbery and inquity. No sooner had VP Chief of Staff Lewis Libby been convicted on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice than out rolled the next scandal à la mode: the US Attorney purge. While merely demonstrating the painfully familiar standard operating procedure of the White House -- federal departments exist to serve the interests of the GOP and their generous donors -- the attorney purge is notable for its timing and what it has displaced as the discussion du jour: the FBI's likely illegal abuse of National Security Letters, the Walter Reed scandal with its associated meme that the Bush administration doesn't really care about about the troops and the Libby verdict and that event's potential to further expose the Vice President's office, not only in the outing of Plame, but in Cheney's and other neocons' roles in cooking pre-invasion WMD intelligence. It appears the White House thought attentions would be better directed toward the purge of US Attorneys -- something that is probably not illegal -- and away from a far more dangerous direction. If Gonzales takes the hit, well, he won't have been the first to go down covering for Cheney and Rove.

Indeed, we have seen this scandal-bump-issue pattern often enough. Just as various congressional committees were gearing up for hearings surrounding the Libby trial, with Fitzgerald and Plame on tap to testify, and more outrage yet again generated by police state practices run amok -- this time at the FBI -- suddenly Congress is consumed by investigating the attorney purge. Not that this isn't something that should happen, but it is certainly far less serious than any of those simmering issues.

Notable also now is the conveniently timed release of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's recorded confession to the 9/11 plot, garnered during a secret military tribunal to which no press or witnesses were allowed access. But the Pentagon says this guy confessed, so, by god, that's good enough. Though hardly a stunning revelation -- Mohammed's involvement has been long asserted, despite sufficient doubts -- the story served another and far more important purpose: bring back pained memories of 9/11, remind of us of the evildoers' evilness, and suck up the big headlines (see how that draws the eyes) while a picky Congress frets about a few lawyers getting fired. Suddenly, FBI malfeasance, Scooter Libby, Walter Reed and White House intelligence manipulation are relics of long, dusty, forgotten past.

Within this larger redirection, though, there exists what we have all come to recognize as the painfully familiar media snow job, this time surrounding the attorney firings. Rather than examining the issues that no doubt were of considerable concern to both the Republican party and the White House and which likely led to the dismissals -- especially of Carol Lam -- the American public are, once again, treated to disingenuous discussions about what Clinton did or did not do. The usual suspects have lined up to poo-poo Bush's unprecedented mid-term firings as common; The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The Washington Times and even NBC's David Gregory have called the bulk discharge of USAs no big deal or at least have questioned its import. With the exception of Gregory -- who appears more hapless than determined -- these same GOP tools had been previously engaged in the disinformation campaign about the Libby trial, disgorging the worn and tired White House talking points about Plame and Wilson and calling, if not demanding, a pardon for Libby.

The issue, of course, is not whether Bush can dismiss US Attorneys; he can. The issue is why and why now (or roughly now). Which means that this redirection from other swirling scandals carries with it a certain risk. We've heard enough about Iglesias and his refusal to speed up investigations of State House Democrats in New Mexico prior to the November elections. But the vastly more important dismissal is that of Carol Lam. Her investigation and eventual conviction of Randy Cunnigham had led to a far wider sweep that also brought down long time Republican bag man, Mitchell Wade and was also pointing at Republican congressman Jerry Lewis, chairman of the House Appropriations committee, the same one through which Cunningham had been directing defense contracts to the Wade and Wilkes enterprise, MZM.

Lam's investigation also pointed towards the CIA, where, just two days before her forced resignation, her Grand Jury brought indictments against the CIA's former Executive Director, Kyle Foggo, and another GOP "donor," graft and corruption specialist Brett Wilkes, a partner of the already convicted Wade. "Hookergate" swirled around these four shady GOP horsemen and is likely what led to the abrupt departure of Porter Goss after less than two years as CIA Director. Though no one really notice at the time, unaware of its potential significance, Goss had inexplicably bumped Foggo to the number three spot at the agency, Executive Director, but Bush's own Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board had grown concerned about
a widening FBI sex and cronyism investigation that's targeted Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No. 3 official at the CIA, and also touched on Goss himself.
Clearly, things were getting entirely out of hand and the only real way to bring this to an end was to can the prosecutors. Both Lam and Debra Wong Yang, a US Attorney in LA who began the investigation of GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis, are now gone; Lam having been fired and Yang suddenly retiring just after the election. It is now expected that none of these investigations will proceed any further.

None of this will you hear being discussed by our media mavens, who insist on portraying the USA dismissals as just another thing Bush can do whenever he wants. Even less likely to capture mainstream attention was the recently released study by Donald C. Shields, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication at University of Missouri and John F. Cragan, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Communication, Illinois State University. In The Political Profiling of Elected Democratic Officials, Shields and Cragan document the practices of the Bush Department of Justice as regards targeting Democratic politicians at the local level across the country. The data to date indicate a disturbing if unsurprising bias:
Data indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven (7) times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops.
And that the Bush administration is engaged in setting yet another precedent:
The current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling.
The effects of such biased behaviour can be expected to be long term and further indicates the Rovian drive to establish the long-dreamt permanent Republican majority by marginalizing Democrats at the lowest levels, levels the media rarely notices. Shields and Cragan state the likely effects of this DoJ effort.
  1. Political profiling makes Democratic officials look like they are more corrupt than Republicans, just as racial minorities are made to look more corrupt than whites by the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. However, the data on state-wide, U.S. Congress, and U.S. Senate elected officials do not support this claim.
  2. Political profiling of local Democratic elected officials attacks the party at the very grassroots essence of its personality. Each local case of reported or insinuated corruption by the federal authorities eats at and saps the local Democrat's energy to be the grassroots leader of the party and drains his or her resources in defense against the comparative unlimited resources of the federal government.
  3. Political profiling discredits each candidate's persona as a viable leader of and spokesperson for the local Democratic party.
  4. Political profiling weakens the candidate's ability to raise monies for themselves when seeking re-election and negates their ability to raise money for other democratic candidates.
  5. By keeping political profiling at the local level -- in this way the story is most likely not to be viewed nationally -- it makes it harder for reporters to connect the dots between corruption investigations in say Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, or Philadelphia let alone towns like Carson, Colton, East Point, or Escambia, or counties like Cherokee, Harrison, Hudson, or Lake. Each local report of a corruption investigation appears as only an isolated incident rather than as a central example of a broader pattern created by the Bush Justice Department's unethical practice of political profiling.
Years of political profiling of Democrats by the Bush administration is behaviour that is not being discussed nor will it be discussed within the mainstream media frame. And what is clear from the Shields-Cragan study is that the dismissal of Iglesias, someone who refused political pressure to which many US Attorneys appear to have succumbed, is a rarity. Which means, of course, that this legalistic pogrom against low level Democrats has in fact been carried out with great abandon and has been utterly overlooked by the media. Unfortunately, even with the publication of the Shields-Cragan study, that will likely continue (Shields has appeared on The Colbert Report).

As indicated earlier, the redirection of attentions onto the US Attorney purge carried some risk, although it seems the White House can always bank on their loyal minions to put in the requisite face time and focus the energies of the media on issues entirely unrelated to what has been really going on in the Department of Justice during the Bush years.

The one wild card in this will be Democrats with congressional majorities. Now that the Senate has indicated that subpoenas will be forthcoming in the attorney purge issue, it will be interesting to see whether the Democrats ask questions, not only about the firings themselves, but about the long term DoJ efforts in political profiling. Apart from the obvious efforts in obstructing ongoing investigations of elected Republicans, Bush administration political profiling is something the Democrats better recognize as an existential threat to their party, a party that lately is constantly under attack by both Republicans and the media (all you need to do to confirm this is watch any talking head show on any network). But they also know that the media, in concert with its dreadful willingness to cover up such behaviour rather than expose it, will perform the usual function of blaming whiny Democrats for complaining about being investigated seven times more often than Republicans. One's of those is called a rock, the other, a hard place.

But Democrats don't need to rely on assays of bias to figure out what is going on. They have the power of subpoena and they better start using it. And after hearing Leahy speak on this issue over the last few days, he sounds like a man worn out by this White House and who probably doesn't give a shit what the flaccid jowls of Bret Hume are quivering about. Here's hoping he is mad as hell and won't take it anymore.

Nazis, then and now

Whatever idiotic Democratic wonk decided that the Nevada Democratic Party's presidential debate ought to be broadcast by Fox News, it was patently clear that more than a few in that party are either guileless, don't have cable or are GOP moles. And none of those possibilities recommends itself more than the others. Indeed, all three may have been operative.

While the choice of Fox News for the Dem debates was obviously a bizarre one to people outside the closeted confines inhabited by Democratic "strategists," when sense finally did prevail, Fox News decided that the slight was simply too much to bear. Indeed, none other than the fair and balance Bill O'Reilly tripped over Goodwin's Law on his way to his Fox News desk, came out swinging and likened Democrats to -- what else? -- Nazis. This after recently saying that Colorado Democrats were "soft on child sex offenders," apparently neglecting to recall the Republican enablers of the Mark Foley scandal.

It will come as no surprise to learn that this is not the first time Fox News has served as a media sling for a "Democrats are Nazis" rock, as when bought-and-paid-for ExxonMobil shill Sterling Burnett likened Al Gore to Joseph Goebbels. But that is only of trifling concern. The more glaring aspect of the continuous Fox News assault on Democrats has been seen when, at almost every opportunity, various Fox News larvae (FNC is the host) have lambasted Democrats as terrorists, terrorist lovers and enemy combatants. But now Bill O'Reilly is incensed that those damnable Democrats are Nazis for thinking there might be some bias present at FNC.

This is entirely expected on the part of Fox, of course. I have often wondered whether the Democrats are utterly uninformed about just how much the media is biased against them and this episode confirms that, indeed, they are. But what irks beyond measure is how this now idiotic stink, played for full effect by Fox itself, is the fault of no one but the Democrats. It seems as though the Dems just go around looking for ways for Fox News to generate ugly noise about Democrats, like O'Reilly needs help.

Wake up, you idiots.